Pruning, revisited

Floristry, Roses

Maybe this makes me weird, but I love pruning.  I was out there yesterday afternoon, brandishing my secateurs, and was only temporarily defeated by the hail.  Most people are scared of pruning and think they’ll get it wrong.  Wrong!  Roses are remarkably tough and resilient, and will survive a great deal of harsh treatment.  They will also reward you with abundant blossoms if you treat them nicely.  In short, roses and humans have a lot in common.

About this time last year I wrote a post about pruning called Symbolic pruning.  It summarised how to prune (briefly, remove dead and diseased material, remove crossing or inward growing branches and shorten by a third), and then I went to muse about how wonderful it would be if we could remove unhelpful habits as effectively as we can prune the roses.

I have been an epic failure on this front over the last twelve months.  No exercise program has been adhered to, let alone formulated, beyond my weekly attendance at rehab Pilates.  I do note however that I always feel better, both mentally and physically, afterwards, and I always note that I feel vastly better on a non working Wednesday, after two days of being trapped in front of the computer.

This means I am back to the eternal question.  How do I make a living?  I need a job which gives me the opportunity to exercise both my intellect and creativity, does not involve being in front of a screen and on my spreading arse all the time, and something which is comfortably over borderline poverty.  All suggestions welcome.

On the positive side, this unusually wet winter means  I now have a bounteous spring full of roses to look forward to.  I managed to control my rose purchasing this winter to only four new varieties.  Ashram, which I have admired at every rose show I have been to, and love for the thoughts of belonging and connection that its name evokes in me.  In a moment of pure homesickness for the mild  winters of my home town, I bought City of Perth.  Finally I bought two roses purely for floristry.   Julia’s Rose is also sometimes called the Brown Paper Bag rose for its unusual colouring that looks fabulous in the vase, and Soul Sister, which was marketed as an improvement on Julia’s rose.

I also transplanted three from last winter, which had sulked seriously in their original planting.  Joyfulness, Mirage and Addictive Lure have taken kindly to the move.  And when they grow up a little, I’ll be able to see them from bed.

Flowers really do make me happy.




Life without roses

winter flowers

The great joy of living in Australia is that in winter, we still have amazing flowers. I admit that I can get a little carried away about roses, but winter tempers me in more way than one. Winter in Australia is like no version of winter northern readers will ever have seen before. To remind myself of this amazing botanical bounty, I visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) a few days ago. It was slightly above frigid, and very overcast. Not very promising conditions for a garden visit, but it was totally worth it.

The ANBG is one of the few botanical gardens which only grows native flora. A visit to the gardens means you can walk along the spine of eastern Australia, from the wet tropics all the way down to the southern tip of Tasmania. You can pop over to my home state of WA, via the red centre. And even in winter, you will find flowers. Here is a selection from my walk.

Many Australia native flowers are dainty, like this Baeckia crassifolia, found in the rock garden.

Baeckia crassifolia.  Photo by the author

Baeckia crassifolia. Photo by the author

What they lack in size they make up for in mass. Many other species such as thryptomene, ti-trees and that ubiquitous but still lovely bouquet filler, Geraldton Wax, employ the same strategy of floral abundance.
The standout performers today were the banksias, named for Sir Joseph Banks whose wife gave her name to the Banksia Rose. Banksias come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from extremely large shrubs to hybridized dwarf cultivars. They are usually in the warm colour range, oranges and yellows, although you can also find pale lemons and deep rusty reds.

Banksia ericifolia ‘Red Cluster’ (below) makes a rather tall sparse bush, and has very long reddy orange flowers.

Banksia ericifolia 'Red Cluster'.  Photo by the author.

Banksia ericifolia ‘Red Cluster’. Photo by the author.

Banksia integrifolia has a lovely lemony flower, and attractive greyish new leaves but can be a large shrub.

Banksia integrifoloia subsp integrifolia.  Photo by the author.

Banksia integrifoloia subsp integrifolia. Photo by the author.

If you don’t have that much space, you could try the varieties called Stumpy Gold or Birthday Candles. If you are really space limited, you could try one of the native heaths. This one is Epacris impressa.

Epacris impressa or common heath.  Photo by the author.

Epacris impressa or common heath. Photo by the author.

The last two samples of winter colour come from the ever reliable Grevillea species. I planted Lady O in my last (more spacious) garden, and can fully attest to her frost hardiness and general beauty. Finally there is Grevillea lanigera, demonstrating its fauna friendliness.

Grevillea 'Lady O'.  Photo by the author.

Grevillea ‘Lady O’. Photo by the author.

Grevilliea lanigera with insect.  Photo by the author.

Grevillea lanigera with insect. Photo by the author.

I’d like to end with something I just snapped on the way to the library, a stunning floral arrangement made with natives that was waiting to be picked up from outside my local florist.

Banksia arrangement.  Photo by the author.

Banksia arrangement. Photo by the author.

Who says winter can’t be beautiful?